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After the military coup in Portugal on April 25th, 1974, the overthrow of almost fifty years of Fascist rule, and the end of three colonial wars, there followed eighteen months of intense, democratic social transformation which challenged every aspect of Portuguese society. What started as a military coup turned into a profound attempt at social change from the bottom up and became headlines on a daily basis in the world media. This was due to the intensity of the struggle as well as the fact that in 1974–75 the right-wing moribund Francoist regime was still in power in neighboring Spain and there was huge uncertainty as to how these struggles might affect Spain and Europe at large.

This is the story of what happened in Portugal between April 25, 1974, and November 25, 1975, as seen and felt by a deeply committed participant. It depicts the hopes, the tremendous enthusiasm, the boundless energy, the total commitment, the released power, even the revolutionary innocence of thousands of ordinary people taking a hand in the remolding of their lives. And it does so against the background of an economic and social reality which placed limits on what could be done.



Publié par
Date de parution 25 janvier 2012
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9781604866957
Langue English

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Portugal: The Impossible Revolution?
Phil Mailer
© 2012 PM Press
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be transmitted by any means without permission in writing from the publisher.
ISBN: 978-1-60486-336-9
Library of Congress Control Number: 2011927959
Cover and interior design by briandesign
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
PM Press
PO Box 23912
Oakland, CA 94623
Printed in the USA on recycled paper, by the Employee Owners of Thomson-Shore in Dexter, Michigan.
Published in the EU by The Merlin Press Ltd.
6 Crane Street Chambers, Crane Street, Pontypool NP4 6ND, Wales
ISBN: 978-0-85036-648-8
Day 1: Thursday, April 25, 1974
Day 2: Friday, April 26
Day 3: Saturday, April 27
Day 4: Sunday, April 28
Day 5: Monday, April 29
Day 6: Tuesday, April 30
Day 7: Wednesday, May 1
Sizing Things Up
Timex, Sogantal, Mabor, CTT
The Cultural Nonrevolution
Collapse of the First Provisional Government
The Return to Reality
TAP, Lisnave, and Other Big Disputes
The Antistrike Law and the Resurgence of the Right
September 28
The Third Provisional Government
The Committees
The Trade Union Question
The Emergence of Inter-Empresas
The Rural Structure
Early Confrontations
Taking the Land
The Right
The Centre
The Left
The Polarisation
April 25, 1974
Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Committees
What Political Role?
March 11, 1975
The Occupations
Housing Struggles
Inter, CRAM, SAAL, and the Shanties
Machismo and the Women’s Movement
Electoral Arithmetic
"Popular Power" and the Military
The República and Radio Renascenca Affairs
Autonomous Workers’ Struggle
Inter-Empresas and the Unions
The "Revolutionary Workers’ Councils"
The Cooperative Movement
Land Occupations
Backlash in the North
The Road to State Capitalism
The Crisis and the Emergence of the "Group of Nine"
The Sixth Government and the Advance of "The Nine"
Popular Assemblies
Everyday Life in the Cooperatives
Beyond Local Workers’ Committees?
The Media of Control and the Control of the Media
Military Factions
Towards Breaking Point
AFTERWORD by Maurice Brinton
APPENDIX Transcript of Radio Renascenca Broadcast
The military coup in Portugal on April 25, 1974, ending nearly fifty years of fascist rule, was followed by eighteen months of intense social transformation that challenged every aspect of Portuguese society. What started as a military coup turned into a profound attempt at grassroots social change that made headlines on a daily basis around the world due to the intensity of the struggle and the presence of the right-wing, moribund Francoist regime in neighbouring Spain. There was much uncertainty at the time as to how these struggles might affect Spain and Europe at large.
This book is a personal description of these events from the day of the coup and its tumultuous aftermath up to November 1975, when another military coup reinforced liberal parliamentary democracy and brought Portugal into the mainstream of European capitalism.
Today, very few outside Portugal can remember these events. With the failure of the revolution, Portugal was quickly recuperated into the European Union and the whole experience was considered a tempest in a teacup barely worth mentioning.
But inside the country, the experience was profound: many companies were taken over by their workers; Neighbourhood Committees occupied empty houses and ran crèches and other community services. The police were rendered ineffective and the army (usually the last bastion of the state) divided into opposing factions, with the revolutionary left factions being in control of the state apparatus for quite some time.
The rhetoric of revolution was everywhere and there were hints as to what a modern revolution might entail. But in 1974, there was no Internet, no mobile/cell phones. The two main TV stations were state-controlled and there were only a half dozen radio stations in the country.
Workers tried to organise in this vacuum. The problems of self-organisation and political manipulation when workers were forbidden to carry any political party banners or trade-union banners at demonstrations are highlighted in the latter half of the book. The control of the media (television, radio, and newspapers, especially the Catholic Church radio station occupied at the time by the far-left) and their problems are also discussed in great detail. Throughout the book I have also sought to pay particular attention to the problems of rank-and-file soldiers organising within the army.
The split in Portuguese society after the 1974 coup was threefold: among the various state capitalist ideas (and parties), those who wanted to install liberal parliamentary democracy, and the various attempts of People Power to increase the direct influence of the workers from the bottom up. This latter effort by the workers is well documented here, mostly in their own words, in its struggle to develop organisational autonomy and economic self-management. In this, my account of the events in Portugal may differ from others of its kind.
Through five successive military governments, the Portuguese Communist Party (PCP) installed state capitalism throughout the country and the various far-left parties largely actively collaborated with this project. The Socialist Party, however, was divided between those who wanted to go along with the military governments and the Communist Party, and those who wanted a European-style liberal capitalism and thus conspired with the Right and extreme Right and the U.S. Embassy. The Social Democrats, situated to the right of the Socialist Party, were trying to find new clothes for the old regime.
Today’s Portugal is the outcome of these struggles. The Socialist Party (PS) and the Popular Democrats (now PSD) are the power-mongers while the PCP remains the main left opposition group and is in control of the trade union movement. The far-left groups, with all the colourful acronyms you’ll encounter throughout the book, are now all allied into the Left Wing Alliance (BE, Bloco de Esquerda) while the Maoists have thankfully mostly disappeared altogether.
In reediting this book of events that occurred over thirty-five years ago, it is sometimes difficult to imagine the intensity of the moments. As I reread my account, I had to frequently ask myself, did this really happen? But, yes, it did happen; I still have all the documents to prove it. For a younger generation, it may truly seem impossible! Maurice Brinton’s afterword deals with that word in the title of this account in some detail. At the time of these events, there was endless discussion across continents as to whether there should be a question mark after the word "impossible." Such were the times. I still support the question mark.
At the time I wrote this book, state capitalism was considered to be as big a danger (if not bigger) to Portugal than private capitalism. This was the main emphasis of my analysis of the grassroots movement as well as political party analysis in this book, although neoliberalism and market economics became the dominant ideology in the Portuguese (and world) ruling class instead. This did not seem so obvious in 1974-75. Today, Portugal is a country fully integrated into modern capitalism with all the iniquities that implies.
At reissue, the book is essentially the same as the 1977 edition that was published jointly by Solidarity in London, Black Rose in Canada, and Free Life Editions in New York. I have omitted a chapter on Portuguese history, as I found it a bit too long-winded and statistical, obstructing the narrative; for those eager to seek further information, the subject has been dealt with amply and better elsewhere, in other books or on the Internet. I have edited some sections slightly, omitting parts that I felt went into too much detail and were not relevant today. I have omitted the twenty-six appendices originally at the back of the book as they, too, are available elsewhere. Maurice Brinton’s introduction, which I feel continues to be a valid contribution, is now an afterword; I am indebted to him in so many ways for getting this book off the ground from the start. A few names have been restored to their proper Portuguese spelling, and a few errors about geographical location of factories and barracks have been rectified. Very little else has changed.
It is what it is. Vamos ver.
I would like to dedicate this edition to the memory of Maria Teresa Viana (1946-2010) who influenced it in so many subtle ways.
Phil Mailer Lisbon, 2012
GLOSSARY ADU Assembly of (military) Unit Delegates ALA Free Association of Farmers AMI Group for Military Intervention; counterforce to COPCON set up by Sixth Government ANP Popular National Action; main fascist party before April 25 AOC Associ

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